Tories won’t win as party of ‘the self-satisfied and entitled’, says Lord Frost
The Conservatives will not win the next election as the party of “the self-satisfied and entitled”, a former cabinet minister has warned.
David Frost, the former Brexit minister, told the National Conservatism conference in London that there was “real suppressed anger and frustration” among people that the party ignored “at our peril”.
In a speech on Wednesday morning, Lord Frost had attacked people who have “accumulated unearned wealth over the last 20 years or have established positions of privilege through government action”.
He said: “House owners have seen houses go up hugely in value, massive unearned gains due to planning restrictions and poor monetary policy totally unrelated to the productive capacity of the economy.
“Owners of financial assets have benefitted in the same way.
“Pensioners, government employees have been protected at the expense of those who earn a living. Meanwhile, many others are locked out.”
Lord Frost, a former civil servant who was ennobled by Boris Johnson and then resigned from Government at the end of 2021 over disagreements on policy, criticised a lack of housing, the inability of young people to build up savings due to high taxes, and the effect of increased energy costs on small businesses.
He said: “Maybe they don’t realise it, but these are the people who would benefit from deregulation, from tax reduction, and from the massive shake-up this country so badly needs.
“These are the people who will build this country well into the 21st century. They won’t be Conservatives if we only seem concerned about looking after those who have already done well.
“The Conservative Party won’t win elections as the party of the self-satisfied and the entitled. We must be the party of opportunity and the party of the future.”
Since leaving office, Lord Frost has been a regular critic of government policy and has repeatedly called for tax cuts and deregulation.
On Sunday, he revealed that the Conservative Party had put him on its list of approved candidates for the next general election although he had not yet applied for a seat.
If he did stand at the next general election, he would have to give up his peerage.
Lord Frost renewed his calls for deregulation and tax cuts in his speech on Wednesday and criticised plans by Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, to give renters more rights and ban no-fault evictions.
He said: “It’s not so easy always to use government for good. In this fallen world there are always consequences we don’t foresee.
“That is why I think the right thing to do is to reverse the powers of government over our everyday lives.
“Let’s not forget what that means: the politicisation of every activity and every choice you make, the endless hectoring, the constant suggestion that the government has the right to dictate how you behave when it has socialised the costs, the dangerous and counter-productive intrusion into private property – as Michael Gove’s Renters Bill will do this morning.”
Lord Frost went on to address the so-called “culture wars”, calling for action to “re-establish this country as a cohesive national democracy and to recreate a sense of nationhood” including by demolishing buildings from the late 20th century.
To applause from the audience, he said: “We must also be vigorous in maintaining our national traditions and I see nothing wrong at all, personally, in the government refusing to allow statues to be taken down, names changed, or plaques removed.
“I actually think we also have something to learn from our European friends, from countries like Germany and Hungary in demolishing some of the monstrous buildings we built in the last 50 years and rebuilding what we have lost – maybe that’s a project for this new Carolean age.”
He added that the reaction to the National Conservatism conference, which closes on Wednesday, showed that “opponents” of conservatism were “humourless” and “out of touch”.
He said: “We are sometimes accused of not having a sense of humour by our opponents, but really go through Twitter and read these screeds and you won’t find a more humourless bunch of people in this country.
He added: “What these comments show is that our opponents are completely out of touch. They are completely deranged by perfectly normal and widely supported ideas.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the conference heard from historians including David Starkey, who claimed that left-wing activists were “jealous” of the “moral primacy” of the Holocaust, while Black Lives Matter wanted to destroy “white culture”.
In 2020, Conservative backbencher Daniel Kawczynski was reprimanded by the Tories for attending a National Conservatism conference in Rome, with a party spokesman condemning the views of some other speakers.
But although a spokesman for Number 10 said the Prime Minister did not agree with some of the views expressed at the conference, it was attended by two cabinet ministers – Suella Braverman and Michael Gove – which the spokesman said was “a matter for them”.
Later on Wednesday, the conference heard from Tory vice chairman Lee Anderson, who urged conservatives to return to their “core values” and focus on “aspiration”.
The Ashfield MP said: “Our country is a gift to the world. I’m so proud to be British and the realignment that we speak about is not that difficult, it’s about getting back to our core values.
“The one common thread that runs through the Conservative Party, and I don’t always agree with my colleagues and they certainly don’t agree with me, but the one common thread we’ve got is that aspiration.
“It’s about providing opportunity and a society where anybody in this country can get on. That sounds a bit like the American dream but I tell you, it’s the British dream.”